David and his men continued on the road, while Shimei kept up with them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went. 2 Samuel 16:13
Every morning I read Bob Goff’s Live in Grace, Walk in Love devotional. In several reflections, he talks about how we tend to gravitate toward people who are like us, and away from those who aren’t. He believes we miss so much by not exposing ourselves to, and learning from, those who think differently.
I don’t know about you, but this was a message I needed to hear.
In 2 Samuel 16, Shimei approached King David, throwing curses and stones at him and his entourage. When the soldiers wanted to cut off Shimeai’s head, David stopped them. It’s as if he suddenly saw the benefit of being challenged by a different perspective.
If we drop our defenses, and truly listen to those who are different from us, with different viewpoints, it’s possible we’ll see things differently too. I’m not saying we become so malleable we allow anyone we meet to reshape our thinking.
I am saying that God places people in our lives to impact us, and for us to impact. There’s so much we can learn from each other while still keeping the foundation of faith we’ve built over the years. St. Francis knew this when he met with the Muslim Sultan. Jesus knew this when He met with the tax collectors and prostitutes.
Of course it’s a challenge when the other is cursing us and naming our mistakes, like Shimei did with David. He was holding up a hard mirror for David to look into.
But when we look in any mirror, we need to see ourselves the way God sees us: all beautiful, but perhaps with past mistakes that need to be corrected, a closed mind that needs to be opened for His grace to pour in, and an incomplete masterpiece that could be enhanced if we opened ourselves up to the people He sends to us.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I welcome in people who are different from me? If not, why not?
* Do I see any benefit in opening myself up to people who think differently than I do?
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Great point Claire. I have learned that lesson over time too…still learning…
I hear you, Christine! I still am prone to withdraw when I’m around people who think differently than I do, missing all that they could possibly teach me in the process. Here’s to both of us getting better at remaining open. 🙂
Claire, you’ve hit on one of the most challenging directives Jesus teaches both
by word and by example, a directive that, at least for me, will challenge me to the end of my days. Especially in our current culture and political atmosphere where the two opposing parties are in our face the minute we turn on the TV or open our e-mail. What I grapple with is the lack of respect or willingness of those with opposite views to sincerely listen to the views of the other side, unwilling to accept that both sides could come together in unity on certain agreed principles. Instead we are subjected to such ongoing hatred spewing out of those who certainly don’t seem to care about anyone except their own lust for power. That’s where being a follower of Jesus is for me most challenging, and I do pray earnestly that He will put His own Love within my heart for the people who obviously hate me for what I believe. Have I failed in this challenge? Absolutely! But I’m secure in knowing how patient my God is with me, when He sees me trying to be loving and forgiving to all of His children, even the most challenging in my limited view of them.
You couldn’t be more right, Jackie, especially about the political atmosphere at the moment. But this extreme intolerance and hatred just reminds me how much we need God and His blessings on our country, and our leaders. I have complete faith He will lead us through. It’s that same faith that keeps challenging me to get better at listening more than I talk, and to be more open to those with differing viewpoints.